The Meaning of Life

Seems like everybody is searching for a purpose. We rush through our days looking for it - something that gives us meaning because deep down we all long to be useful and maybe even feel important. If you're like me, you've analyzed your way through life expecting to stumble into your purpose or download a fresh, morning shower epiphany. How many of us have thought, "I haven't lived up to my highest potential" or "I expected to be farther a long (to somewhere) by now?"

These days, we look for social media shares and likes and promotions to jobs that we don't even really want. We send out resumes to hundreds of positions just to aimlessly move on from the one we want to leave. No direction, no focus, just send. We don't want to just work a job, we want a job with purpose. We want to be fulfilled.

Those of us who want to find purpose and personal fulfillment really want to connect and be validated for what we bring to the world. We find fulfillment when we can confirm for ourselves that we actually have meaning behind what we do: someone respects, wants or needs what we offer. But, with all the striving, we often come up empty simply because most of us neglect to:

  1. firmly decide what is most interesting or important to us, and

  2. define what truly suits our personality and abilities.

Sure, a handful of people have always known what they've wanted to do with their lives, but the great majority of us must choose from an overwhelming plethora of choices. We have to look at ourselves, who we are, what we like and dislike, what we know and don't know, and choose. This well considered, informed choice can be the purpose we seek. The answer to these questions can change over time and so can purpose.

What is the Purpose of Life?

"The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience." Former First Lady of the United States, Eleanor Roosevelt

Eleanor Roosevelt expressed what would have taken me more than a hundred words to say. The Field Guide to Happiness is the way toward living a fuller, richer existence by examining and embracing who we are and all of the things we want to experience. It's on this very path where we stop seeking a purpose outside of ourselves and go within to accept the one that's already there. And when circumstances don't permit us to move just yet, we experience life fully where we're planted while we orchestrate our change.

Roosevelt was a pioneer. She remains the longest serving First Lady, from March 4, 1933, to April 12, 1945, and she was a speaker, writer, diplomat and human rights activist. At the age of 76, she penned a guide on living a fuller life called "You Learn By Living." In it, she wrote:

"In the long run, we shape our lives, and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And, the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility."

My life is a testament to the truth of this quote. We shape our lives with every decision we neglect to make. We can begin to reshape life by beginning to pay attention.


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© 2021 by Shai Littlejohn